CF Saskatchewan Blog

Visions North’s 10th Annual Women in Business Workshops

  • November 1, 2016
  • Written by Jessica Sandell

Visions North was pleased to have offered its 10th annual Women in Business workshops here in La Ronge on October, 6. This year’s weather conditions made it extra challenging. Originally we had nearly 100 participants registered. Rather than look at the negative of those who were unable to attend we found the positive in looking at the 70 (including our speakers) who braved the elements. Some attendees came from as far away as Buffalo Narrows!!

Joan McCusker kicked off the workshops with her story of a small town Saskatchewan farm girl who made it all the way in curling from Canadian and World Championships to Olympic Gold Medalist! Joan shared the lessons that she had learned along the way. Most importantly not letting the fact of being born and raised in small town Saskatchewan define her and her ambitions as well as the importance of the support of family and her whole community along the way.

Joan was followed by Claire Belanger-Parker. Claire has been working hard behind the scenes as a volunteer for many organizations, including one that brought the 2005 Canada Summer Games to Saskatchewan. She spoke about why she felt volunteering and sharing your skills with your communities was important. The essence of her message was that by following your passions, volunteering and giving back to your community you will get more back than you give. After she spoke one of the participants told Claire she always looked forward to the annual Women in Business conference because she and her friends found it “life transforming”. When Claire relayed this to workshop organizer, Jean Powell, it helped reaffirm what Visions North had hoped these workshops would provide, inspiration.

Our lunch time speakers were two local residents. Shayla Ricklefs of Abben Heating and Plumbing spoke about her journey with husband Paul of building their business over the years and the mistakes and successes they had encountered. Our second speaker Trudy Conner spoke about her long time connection with the local food bank and talked of the need for this service in La Ronge and the selfless work that her fellow volunteers did in trying to help their less fortunate citizens. She seconded Claire’s notion that you do indeed get more back than what you put out.

The day ended with Janice Taylor of Mazu Family Forum. Mazu works with professional sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and NHL to provide youth with a safe online environment. Janice shared stories from her youth and growing up. Unlike Joan, Janice spoke of the challenges of coming from a dysfunctional family and how thankful she was for the support of family neighbours and the community in general. Her overall theme was to be kind and be there for your friends and families who sometimes need you to listen and just share your strength. Janice emailed Visions North after the conference to mention the wonderful women she met in the North and felt that “no matter where we come from the soul of women are always connected by the stories we tell.”

After the full day of workshops we weren’t quite finished yet. Visions North staffer, Deb Parkinson coordinated a Beverley Mahood performance and supper to celebrate the fact we had made it to our tenth annual conference!! Before Beverley took the stage a local band, Set to Flames entertained the audience. Beverley was impressed by the band overall and lead singer Shelbey Savoie in particular. She went so far as to ask to stay in touch with Shelbey to see how her career was progressing. Before Beverley took to the stage we answered a question that we had been asked many times that night. Why Beverley Mahood? Besides talking about her obvious musical talent her philanthropic work of working with abused people and food kitchens across Canada was talked about. To us, her presence fit perfectly with the overall theme of this year’s workshops.

A big thank you to our speakers, performers and organizers and many sponsors but most of all a big thank you to the participants who make the event what it is every year.